I'm On Nights
The Pheromoans present their fourth album, I'm On Nights, following 2012's Does This Guy Stack Up? (UTR 054CD/LP) and 2014's Hearts of Gold. A largely electronic affair, this ten-track LP -- recorded in Manor House, Northeast London -- refracts vocalist Russell Walker's stony poeticisms through a lens of analog synths while etching drum machine clicks and spaced-out keyboard ditties into the bigger picture. Guitars and bass still make an appearance -- helmed by Christian Butler, Alex Garran, and James Tranmer -- but they've mostly been eclipsed by the scrappy, artificial beats that now underline Walker's diary-like, ennui-soaked rhymes. Album opener "Wizard" -- with its blocky, "Bizarre Love Triangle"-esque intro and unnerving pins-and-needles crackle -- jolts the listener awake with charges of experimental noise. Then there's the plaintive synth pads on stripped-back tearjerker "ION" and the acid squelch of "Depressed Thunderbird." Because, with I'm On Nights, musical touchstones take on a myriad of cult guises, shifting from downbeat minimal wave to a hypothetical vision of Dan Treacy crooning caustically over "Mari" by Martin Rev. That's not forgetting, of course, the influence of an outlier crop of new wave-y post-punk bands including Datblygu and Young Marble Giants. And, as always, there's the requisite nod to all things DIY. Walker says he hope this direction will create some distance between the band and a certain demographic, characterizing the album as "an attempt to alienate further the other dads at the nursery gates who kept slapping my back firmly and saying 'nice work keeping our music alive compadre', and trying to graft their aviator shades onto my forehead and contorting my fingers into the devils headset." With titles like "Don't Spread It Round College" and "Brad's Crush," the bulk of the LP's lyrical content reaches back into Walker's 16-to-18-year-old psyche, as he explains: "It was at J. Sainsbury (Produce) in Uxbridge where I discovered the joy of working alone at night unimpeded and free to delve further into my hitherto unexplored imagination...!!" And it's this theme of (oft night-time) employment that cuts through ballpoint scribbles of Walker's quotidian missives. Hailing from the holy trinity of England's most southern locales -- London, Brighton, and Hertfordshire -- The Pheromoans consist of Russell Walker on vocals, Christian Butler on guitar and electronics, Alex Garran on bass and electronics, James Tranmer on guitar and electronics, Scott Reeves on drums and electronics, and Dan Bolger on keyboards.